Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Rape and unreason

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  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    I wonder, Dylan, if you understand what rape actually is. It would be surprising if you did. Even the Oxford Dictionary hasn’t got it quite right. http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/rape?q=rape
    Most of our rape culture is around not understanding the term. Rape is nonconsenusal sex. Simple.

    Yes I definitely understand that.

    In reading all your words, I sense that you come from a bit of a liberal bubble. That when you see the word rapist you have a certain image in your mind. Of a man, a very bad man with nefarious things on his mind. Most men I know have this image in their heads. Rape is a violent, and terrible, act. Not me. Not us. That’s rape culture.

    It's a single word that describes a broad range of behavior and situations. When we discuss it it's easiest to focus on the obvious bogey man aspect of it, but that doesn't mean the same concepts don't apply at all levels.

    I wrote a really long spiel, but then, I thought, I can’t be fucked explaining rape culture again. And besides, others are more eloquent. So I wrote a blog post, especially for you, and men like you. I hope you read it. Rapists aren’t bogey men. They’re, mostly, just men. But we have a culture of entitlement around sex. No-one teaches young girls that all men are capable of rape, or sexual violence. We learn that all for ourselves, through our experiences.

    I will read your post soon.

    My argument boils down to the idea that the message that all men are capable of rape seems, to me, a message that specific men who are capable of rape will hear and find justification in. I think it reinforces the thoughts, feelings and actions by saying that they are "normal" in a way.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to TracyMac,

    I’m all about using non-jargon terms (as it still is) when plain English really isn’t overly cumbersome in this instance.

    The TV news says "may disturb viewers" That works for me.What you have said works for you seems totally understandable for a wide range of viewing.Because it seems wide ranging I get what RB was saying now. I am beginning to feel glad I don't tweet or enter forums much. PAS takes up enough of my time :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    I don't agree with you. People who are violent will be violent, and need no justification. Ever. And, besides, it's not about "all men are capable of rape", it's about addressing what motivates rape. Power and entitlement.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    I don’t agree with you. People who are violent will be violent, and need no justification. Ever. And, besides, it’s not about “all men are capable of rape”, it’s about addressing what motivates rape. Power and entitlement.

    You don't think that hearing a message that, in a way boils down to "we expect men to rape" emboldens those who do and normalises things for them? Doesn't it feed that entitlement?

    Obviously it's difficult to change personal feelings and responses, but that is a message that is broadcast too.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    But I do think that the argument that woman should “stay out of trouble” such as made by Bob Jones and, arguably, society at large is pretty much the same as the argument that women should view all men as a potential threat. I think both have the same basis in risk avoidance and both perpetuate an unhealthy view of the issue.

    We are at risk.

    Take a moment to let that sink in. This isn’t a thing we’re imagining. I’ve been assaulted twice in my life, and I consider myself lucky that neither of them were worse. Countless of my friends have been assaulted, some in horrific ways, and the fact that any of them can leave the house is astounding to me. Never mind the constant reminders that, as Jackie describes in her lovely post, being outside is dangerous.

    Let’s go back to that study that Danielle linked to yesterday.

    If a survey asks men, for example, if they ever “had sexual intercourse with someone, even though they did not want to, because they were too intoxicated (on alcohol or drugs) to resist your sexual advances,” some of them will say yes, as long as the questions don’t use the “R” word.

    Teaching people about consent – because that’s what we’re talking about, no matter how much it feels to you like you’re being called a mean name – is the ONLY thing that will fix that. The point is that it doesn’t matter if we call them rapists. they don’t think they are, because women’s bodies (and some men’s) are a thing to which they are entitled.

    To six percent of men. That might not seem like a lot, but I have 114 male-identifying friends on facebook. I’m pretty bad at maths, but that means I potentially know seven men who might hurt me, right?

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    You know what would make me feel safer and less likely to think of the men around me as possible rapists? If I could be sure that the men around me acknowledged their potential to rape and therefore took steps to mitigate against it. It can be painful to admit that we are all capable of doing wrong but awareness is the best preventative.

    If someone is aware of their own potential to rape (and does not wish to commit such an act) then they will take care to check their partner is sober and alert enough to consent and remains so throughout the act, they will know that a dinner bought or lift given does not equal sex owed, they will treat every ‘no’ at face value, they will check in during sex to make sure their partner continues to be ok. It’s people who believe they couldn’t possibly become a rapist who cut corners on these things.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Sue,

    maybe a different context is needed

    Do parents teach their kids to beware of strangers ?
    stranger danger
    don't get in a car with a stranger
    don't talk to strangers on the way home from school...
    some parents drive their kids or walk their kids to and from school to be extra safe


    Does this mean all strangers are dangerous?
    No
    But we teach kids that to protect them and try to keep them safe
    even then it doesn't stop horrible things happening to some kids

    so we teach our girls as they grow up to beware of things men might do to them
    Does this mean all men are dangerous
    No
    if teaching one girl to walk home from the uni library at night with a buddy
    or teaching one girl how to walk with keys in her hands for a stab and run
    means one less girl gets attacked
    We do it

    But guess what
    girls and women still get attacked
    in our houses
    at our places of work

    So teach your kids this
    respect
    teach them to grow up and be good and compassionate men and women.
    but also teach them how to be safe
    and explain why you need to do this, so that they grow up to be compassion adults with understanding.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 527 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Sue,

    Oh thank you Sue. Thank you.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    You don’t think that hearing a message that, in a way boils down to “we expect men to rape” emboldens those who do and normalises things for them?

    No, what actually emboldens and normalises abusers is the idea that nice white middle-class tertiary-educated First World blokes like me – and Bob Jones – don’t rape. We don’t commit domestic violence or partner abuse. We’re somehow magically above and beyond a culture where violence against women is routinely dished up as entertainment; and a legal system where victims of sexual violence are put on trial, not their abusers. (Of course, anyone who decides not to go through that trauma is just proving their abuse never happened, right?)

    THEY do all of that. Not US.

    And it’s a lie. Do I think every man (myself included) is a rapist? No, but it's dangerous and profoundly dishonest to act as if we don't live in a rape culture. And, yes, as a man in that culture I do think that I'm entirely capable of committing rape and getting away with it. That's hard to hear, let alone accept, but what's downright impossible is changing anything from a place of denial.

    [ETA: Edited to remove material that might have been distressing/offensive to some PASers.]

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    We are at risk.

    Take a moment to let that sink in. This isn’t a thing we’re imagining. I’ve been assaulted twice in my life, and I consider myself lucky that neither of them were worse. Countless of my friends have been assaulted, some in horrific ways, and the fact that any of them can leave the house is astounding to me. Never mind the constant reminders that, as Jackie describes in her lovely post, being outside is dangerous.

    I'm not denying that. I totally understand the objective and subjective fear.

    Teaching people about consent – because that’s what we’re talking about, no matter how much it feels to you like you’re being called a mean name – is the ONLY thing that will fix that. The point is that it doesn’t matter if we call them rapists. they don’t think they are, because women’s bodies (and some men’s) are a thing to which they are entitled.

    It's not necessarily what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the message, implied and explicit, that men (the group) are a danger to women. That every individual man should be considered a possible rapist until proven otherwise.

    I get that it's a feeling that some people personally can't help but hold, but at the same time it's also an idea that gets expressed outwardly to the world also. It seems to set an expectation.

    To six percent of men. That might not seem like a lot, but I have 114 male-identifying friends on facebook. I’m pretty bad at maths, but that means I potentially know seven men who might hurt me, right?

    Maybe it does. But should the response be to then assume that all 114 are potential attackers?

    I think we should work toward the common understanding within society that sexual assault okay is not normal, not okay, not excusable. We should make it clear that victims are not culpable in their own assault. We should establish that expectation.

    But I think a message that equates to "men, don't rape" is somehow implicitly endorsing the idea that not raping is not the normal condition, that it requires some level of conditioning or restraint. It doesn't.

    I think if we can eliminate the victim blaming (and attacker excuse making) then we're a long way closer to "fixed". Then we also need to look at how we educate people about respect for others - it's not rape-specific, it's a broad concept that rational human beings can adapt to all situations.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    You know what would make me feel safer and less likely to think of the men around me as possible rapists? If I could be sure that the men around me acknowledged their potential to rape and therefore took steps to mitigate against it.

    That's the problem. I don't think I have a "potential to rape" - I don't think most men do. In saying that all men have that potential to do so I think we're telling those that do that they are somehow beholden to a natural instinct. I think it normalises their behaviour.

    In the context of established relationships there are of course other issues around implied, inferred and assumed consent, but at that point I really do think it becomes the responsibility of both parties to be a clear as possible as early as possible if things are misinterpreted.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Maybe it does. But should the response be to then assume that all 114 are potential attackers?

    Until I have evidence otherwise? Yes.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve,

    I have to stop now - I can't come out in any positive way.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    “Would you like it if someone did that to you?”

    Golden Rule is tricky because if the thought going through the boy's head is "Would I like it if this girl fucked me right now?" then the answer will almost invariably be "YES I WOULD." but if you could convince them to have a slightly different thought "Would I like to be held down and penetrated by force right now?" then that might get more careful reasoning.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Sue,

    Dylan you seem like a Cool Dude
    I don't know you well, but your post about the jury trial had me like YAY awesome person, fight the good fight for what is fair and just

    but have you considered that your perspective is a little skewed

    genetically you are stronger than the opposite sex
    so if a woman tried to overpower you, you probably could stop that

    Now genetically i am not stronger than the opposite sex
    So if a man tried to overpower me, i could probably not stop that

    now yes BROAD general strokes here
    but those broad general strokes is why we teach our girls and young women how to be safe, how to protect themselves
    and we hope like hell that's enough

    and then we can talk about stuff and minutate
    but first
    FIRST we choose safety
    then we get into changing the world for a better place.

    but FIRST IS SAFETY
    even if safety is flawed
    safety is a whole lot better than nothing

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 527 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    But I do think that the argument that woman should “stay out of trouble” such as made by Bob Jones and, arguably, society at large is pretty much the same as the argument that women should view all men as a potential threat.

    I don't think they're equivalent.

    "Don't wear a short skirt" is a message being applied to all females through no fault of their own.
    "Don't rape" is a message being applied to all males, through fault of some of them.

    But the difference is that most males can take that message, check it, and move on happily knowing they don't do that. If the message was more subtle ("seek consent") they might take it on board more and try and include it in their relationships. But either way it's a positive message for most of us.
    Females seem to have to take their message, check their personal safety, cross reference that with their rights to do what they want, and respond with "hey FFS, I'm not doing anything wrong, how about the people causing the problem stop doing it, and society gives that clear message?!"

    It's a different message when your response to it is buried in those competing things, all of which impact upon you very strongly.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • John Russell, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    I don't think I have a "potential to rape" - I don't think most men do.

    That's cool. From the perspective of women, however, every man (including you, and me) definitely is a potential rapist. Or could maybe physically assault them. Or could, at the very least, lean out of a car window and yell unwelcome shit when they're going about your business. Which is the very same thing you complained about, earlier, when it happened to you that one time and hurt your delicate man-feels. Imagine if you got that shit every day, just because you were Walking While Female?

    In saying that all men have that potential to do so I think we're telling those that do that they are somehow beholden to a natural instinct. I think it normalises their behaviour.

    There are so very, very many sexual assaults that happen, Dylan. I'm pretty sure that's not being caused by one really busy rapey guy. This behaviour doesn't need to be normalised, it is normal. And unacceptable. And if the consequences of trying to fix or reduce it is that you or I have to think "Well, that doesn't apply to me!" then fine, that's a small price to pay.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    We are taught at KINDERGARTEN to look out for strange men, and to “regulate our behaviour” to adjust for rapacious men.

    I've been seen as that strange man who knows how many times. It's always bittersweet because when I see a woman walking in front of me through a park or down a dark street who is obviously disturbed by my presence (and it is obvious), she thinks I'm a threat, but I know that as long as I'm there literally nothing bad can possibly happen, no matter what kind of scumbag is around.

    But there's no way for them to know that.

    If only there was some kind of badge or something. (Unfortunately we now know that even a police badge doesn't guarantee that a man isn't going to be a raper.)

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Sue, in reply to John Russell,

    love your work john

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 527 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    If only 7% of cats were known to attack people, and most people I know had been attacked or threatened by cats, then I'd be pretty damned wary of every cat I met. If even those I personally knew to be good kitties around me laughed at scratching jokes, then I'd still look at them sideways. If old grey cats got paid to write columns about how some people are just asking to be bitten, then that would affect my view of every cat I met.

    Now extrapolate that to something vastly worse than a bit of a scratch, and you might get close to understanding how some people on this thread feel about men. It's horrifying for a man to realise that this is how we are viewed, but the humane reaction to that is not to split hairs and worry about our own feelings, but 1) STFU and listen, and 2) do something about it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol,

    (Obviously I posted my comments from page 5 without knowing there was a dogpile/shitstorm going on on page 6 and 7. It's nice not being on the sharp end of the Public Address Pitchfork Brigade for once.)

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I think perhaps where Dylan and... others... are talking at cross-purposes is that he doesn't think rape and sexual assault are "normal" things, and we all think that they totally are. Shit, *I* was sexually assaulted when I was 12 - by a member of my own family, winningly - and although it wasn't a particularly extreme case and doesn't cause me a great deal of personal trauma 27 years later, I would, you know, much prefer it hadn't happened. If it seems to be everywhere, all the time - as it *does*, to women as a class - then it seems kind of crack-smokingly bizarre to assert that an education campaign about consent would "normalise" rape. You GUYS. We're soaking in it.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Danielle,

    I would like to retweet this, but I don't seem able to. Have these instead xxxxxxxx

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews, in reply to Danielle,

    :(

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Danielle,

    Oh Danielle, I'm sorry. xxxxxxx

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

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